‘The best storytellers live and breathe their narrative’ and in this blog Shireen looks at what happens to storytelling when there is a plot twist.

Author: Shireen Shurmer

Towards the end of last year, we launched our own AD Communications campaign – AD2020 – celebrating our agency story and our role as B2B storytellers for our clients.

In it we talk about character, setting, plot, together with conflict and resolution, as the ingredients of any good story. The best storytellers, we argue, live and breathe their narrative, immersed in the ups and downs of their characters and the events that shape them.

Right now, every business and every customer in our markets is reeling from a gigantic plot twist. There was no foreshadowing here. The players in our stories are reacting, emotionally and pragmatically, to something radical and utterly unexpected. It is derailing plans, diverting energies and forcing changes of direction.

We can confidently say that our characters’ actions will be influenced by the side-swipe of the COVID-19 crisis. Some will emerge from this with fresh purpose, a vision of doing business in a different way. Others will learn lessons from the crisis and make changes, but continue on the same path. For some, the change will be temporary, and there will be a relatively fast return to some degree of normality. For others, the impact will be deep and long-lasting.

As B2B storytellers, how do we manage this plot twist, this new conflict that has entered the narrative? This moment of tension and conflict cannot last forever. We must start to write new chapters.

We do this by going back to our understanding of our characters’ core values and the ambitions that drive them. We anticipate how they will react. And we identify opportunities to move the narrative in a constructive direction, towards resolution. We lift the pace, adjust our tone to reflect the evolving mood and focus on imagining a positive ending.

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